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Nederlands of het Nederlands?

Very quick question: When do you include the article? I've seen instances where just Nederlands is used and others where the article is included.

Could someone please explain the rules for this?

Dank je wel!

September 5, 2014



That's a good question, and to be honest I don't really know myself whether there are rules for it. However, I will try to help you as much as I can by giving examples of when you would include the lidwoord (article) and when not ( based on my own experiences as native speaker|).

  • Firstly, if the word is used as a predicative adjective, you don't include an article. A predicative adjective is when you put the adjective behind the noun,

e.g. The blue sea --- The sea is blue.

This is what you do when describing nationalities. So for example, you would say 'Het boek is Nederlands' (the book is Dutch) or 'Ik ben Nederlands' ( I am Dutch).

You would never say 'Ik ben het Nederlands' ( I am the Dutch). However, you might say 'Ik ben de Nederlander', in which case 'de Nederlander' is a noun translating to 'the Dutchman'.

  • Secondly, if the word is used to mean the Dutch language and it is preceded by a preposition (words like in,on,to,from etc.), then you do include the article.

For example, I would say 'Ik spreek Nederlands' ( I speak Dutch)

However, it would be 'Ik spreek in het Nederlands' ( I speak in Dutch ) or 'Dit boek is vertaald uit het Nederlands' ( this book is translated from Dutch)

  • In some cases it does not matter much. For example, you could say 'Nederlands is een taal' (Dutch is a language) but also 'het Nederlands is een taal'. I think that difference between saying 'Nederlands' and 'het Nederlands' here is like the difference between saying 'Dutch' and 'the Dutch language'.

Although literally translated, 'the Dutch language' is 'de Nederlandse taal', since 'taal' is a de-word, and if 'Nederlands' is used as a normal adjective then you just take the article of whichever word you're using.

I hope that was a little clear, and I'm sure that there are many instances which I've missed out on, so if you have any questions don't be afraid to ask!


Dit hielp zeker! Bedankt! I really appreciate your explanation. Ik begrijp het nu beter. Wederom bedankt!

  • "HET Nederlands" = "THE Dutch language" = wanneer je naar de taal zelf refereert / when you're referring to the language itself (with article)

But when you want to explain that you speak the language, you say the following:

  • Ik spreek "Nederlands" = I speak "Dutch" (without article)
  • Ik leer "Nederlands" spreken = I'm learning "Dutch"
  • Ik heb iemand "Nederlands" horen spreken = I heard someone talking "Dutch"

Of course "Nederlands" can be used as an adjective: Het Nederlands(e) tapijt = The Dutch carpet ... but then the article is included for the noun itself (the carpet).

Greetings from Belgium!

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